Monday, 28 February 2011

Destruction of the mangrove in the Bombay Estuary

The destruction of the mangrove in the Bombay estuary, of which 90% has been lost since it has become the chosen settling ground of some of the 300 families a day that migrate in to Mumbai from rural areas every week. It is the worlds most densely populated city, I can vouch for that as I went there in 2006, the poverty gap is huge, the 4 star newly built hotel we were staying in fronted directly on to shanty towns, and when stacking up your plate at the buffet you could see people walking down the street with no shoes and torn clothes the whole thing is very uncomfortable.

The blame is placed with these vagrant community for the destruction of the the mangrove, but there is a sinister governmental under tone, these settlements built out of very basic single story huts are often cleared as "illegal settlements" the clear spaces are then sold for development, for BIG money the blame for the clearance falls on the poor but is the rich which force them off to clear a fresh patch of mangrove. Very unjust.

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Tuesday, 22 February 2011

The Colinization of Mars - Difficult to Say the Least

There is a strong reasoning behind humans colonizing ,mars as earth will may soon
reach its population thresh hold and as such life will become more difficult for a
lot of people,

The atmosphere on mars is very low on pressure and very high in Co2, the
temperature at present is too low for liquid water to exist in a constant state. The
temp must be raised to a global average of 0C and the pressure to a little higher
than its present 7 mbar (earth =1000) such as prevent direct solid gas phase
change. So you need water (liquid), as raise in temp and a raise in atmospheric

Water: The polar caps of mars which were once thought to be largely solid C02
are now thought to be a mixture of solid water and c02 if this could be relesed it
could provide extra C02 to increase atmospheric pressure and also water, one
method suggested during the lecture was the use of giant orbital mirrors to melts
the ice this could be combined with covering the ice in carbon black, to decrease
the albedo effect, this is good but I really wonder what mechanism may be
utilized to spread the powdered carbon over such a large area, I was thinking the
use of capsules containing the powder that could be sprinkled from a low orbiting
space craft, the shells of these capsules could be designed to disintegrate when
the come in to contact with some element of the Martian atmosphere, whether
this powder would stay in place or not, during powerful wind events? I should
imagine if used this process would be employed on the peripheries of the ice
sheet so as to gain maximum effect, the mirrors are a nice idea but the
construction of such mirrors? Other ways of melting the ice have been
considered such as small wind powered heating units that can be dropped from
an orbiting spacecraft, the strong Martian wind would generate electrical energy
and in turn heat to create blips of heat were bacteria could gain a niche.

Raise Temp: To keep the water liquid efforts must be made to increase the heat
retention on mars, the main idea here is to propagate an accelerated green
house effect, this would again involve melting the ice caps as explained above,
c02 could also be released from the Martian regolith which has a lot of solid state
co2 . Another way could be by introducing bacteria, I have learnt that certain
terrestrial bacteria will have to be modified (genetically) to withstand the initial
conditions on the surface, I wonder whether a two phase approach might be
adopted like that of which happened on earth, back in the days of the early
oceans, initially an anaerobic reducing environ could be encouraged with later
introduction of aerobic bacteria, this should only be considered if it will results in
an accelerated growth / generation of organic matter off of which a second order
of bacteria may well then use as a food stuff. All these processes will produce
gases initial green house, anaerobic and later oxygen, there may be some
methane from roting which is a very good (in this case) greenhouse gas. These
bacteria / amoebas will have to be resilient to extreme cold and radiation until the atmosphere develops.

Atmosphere pressure: As these gases fill the atmosphere the overall quantity
and thickness of the atmosphere will increase towards the minimum for human
survival 675 mbars. Below these pressure humans will succumb to pretty bad
low pressure effects, and so 675 must be reached before human can step out
side of their bio domes / space suits.

The transport of all this infrastructure raises problems such as the weights of the
materials and equipment hat will have to sent up out of earth orbit, perhaps an
advanced base could be built in orbit. At present a space shuttle can carry about
40 tones, future heavy lift projects could lift 140 tones, these fall far short of the
men material, equipment and supplies that would have to shipped the 56 million
miles to mars (actual distance varies between 56 and 399). The craft would then
be assembled in orbit and sent off in to the abyss, rations for the crew would
have to be light and nutritious, perhaps based on current space food, water as
weel would be a large weight of what would have to be taken, all rubbish would
have to be collected on board to avoid hazard from space debris on return journey. The human element of a manned mission would have to be very well
trained in surviving the two year mission, and be very mentally resilient.

How long to cosmonaut stay in the international space station? Surely no more than a few
months? How will they mars o-nauts cope, if at all? I suggest the accommodation
should be based heavily on that which may be found in a nuclear submarine, and
this may be a good place from which to recruit a crew for such a mission. Work
would have to be done on preventing muscular entropy, as lack of gravity would
prevent regular exercise, perhaps the space ship could have a centrifugal hull in
order to generate some “weight” on board.

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Monday, 21 February 2011

Stopping Amazon Smash and Grab . . . not so Simple.

I have been watching Amazon with Bruce Parry, a series on the BBC has shown a very good representation of the people living along the Amazon. In the lower reaches of the river, the logging industry, gold mining (a Brazilian can earn £70 a week mining gold) and cattle ranchers have a massive destructive effect of the rain forest, all involve clear felling vast areas, and exposing the poor soils to leaching from the heavy rain. I wonder as to what effort we can make to stop this process that ties up so many people in employment. These people rely on stripping these natural resources for there lively hood, and it will take some strong economic factors to alter this pattern. Even if logging were to become
illegal it is hard to imagine a complete stop to felling as it is impossible to police such a large area, in one episode it was shown how three officers had to patrol an area the size of Wales. Impossible. How can we change this entrenched system on to the path of right? Is tourism the answer? Can anything be done under international law, or perhaps international trade? If we prevented the import of Brazilian meat in to this country would that halt the spread of the
ranches, or would it push more people in to logging? The minimum wage in
Brazil is 200RS a month (£60) a gold miner can earn over 4 times this amount?
Change has to occur and occur quickly but how?

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Thursday, 17 February 2011

What is Life?

What is Life? Well after much conflabing no satisfactory conclusion can be reached,
you might sum up by saying that life was the transfer of “data” from one living thing to
the next through RNA and DNA, although this will not be agreed on by all I am sure.

However, there is something more to life especially in mammals, all the information that is learnt after birth and passed on like the otter breaking a shellfish on a stone anvil, or a cat showing kitten how to catch a mouse. Also there is the spark when back in the primordial goop, something, some amino acids and some oxides of sulphur sprung in to life, that was life but it was not passed on it was created.

Some sexual organisms evolve, other asexual organisms pass on there genetic matter as a unchanging process, life is (as another lecturer once told me ) a thermo dynamic dis-equilibrium, it a bit catch all but I think that life in all its complexity needs that kind of catch all equation.

I once again found my self considering the precarious balance that we (humans) hold in the cosmos, the earths positioning in relation to the sun, the “skin on the apple” atmosphere for which humans on the whole have such a callous disregard.

Surely the knowledge has been in the domain long enough from the wheels of change (with regards to the protect of the atmosphere) to start turning there are signs of a start, Kyoto etc. but it needs more, what could be more precious than the air that we breath.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Reflections on an Iron Age Fort

The trials and tribulations undertaken by iron age man, were most impressive on
viewing the bund that surrounded the site of the iron age fort, such was its size it
would have a taken a JCB perhaps a week to construct it, I estimate that it would
have been in the region of 3600 m3 of soil and rock, that probably about 8000
tones of soil all moved with a hollowed out antler. Whilst I was a laborer my best
effort was 8 tones in one day, but that was using a shovel and wheel barrow, and
the substance was sand which is easy to shovel, based on that it must have
taken them at the very least 1000 man days to accomplish, probably double that,
so it really was a prolonged effort, perhaps over ten years or so.

One thing that struck me is how we (humans) have complicated life so much, we
were once happy with a willow grove to make most of our containers and
baskets, clay for pots and cups, now we make them from refined oils at great
cost to the environment before shipping them around the world, and not even
reusing them, straight in the bin! We’ve gone mad. There was this film I was
watching I while back “the gods were mad” in this a primitive tribes people, find a
coka cola bottle dropped out of a plain it becomes the thing to have in their
society, a wondrous thing. Yet we throw away jam jars and plastic bottles all the
time and in the next step we are buying a tuper ware container to keep things in. Madness.


Lower your Carbon Foot Print

Eat Greener Food

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Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Supply Chain Woes

Although the concept of the supply chain is a simple on the tracing of say all of
the components in a microwave can take months, as components may be
manufactured in different factories in different provinces / countries. How can this
information be passed over to a consumer so that they will understand the impact
there consumer-ing has on the global environment, its already started to a certain
extent with food, local food consumption is on the increase, supermarkets are
owing to consumer pressure but it needs to spread in to other sectors.

Also mentioned was the divisive and often “wooly” terms used to describe
environmental actions, taken by the particularly in the media, tax to target
motorist etc. Marketing slogans used and can also be very vague, “for every tree
we cut down we plant three more” this is great if they are talking about managed
spruce plantations in Scandinavia. Not so good if it is virgin Brazilian rain forest.
Because it would be unlikely they would replace like for like, probably a more fast
growing variety for instance, which would be less bio-diverse etc.

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